Graduate School of Social Communication
Arq. João Luís Carrilho da Graça

Further information

In 1994 the Secil Architecture Award recognized the architect João Luís Carrilho da Graça, for the design of the Graduate School of Social Communication, in Lisbon. In the words of Dr. António Pinto Leite “…Much of the mystique of the ESCS was achieved around the model of what its future building would be like…” as lecturers and students at that time were accommodated in temporary facilities.

For the promoter, the work was “…an uncompromising concern for investment in education also to be an investment in architecture“, “…Secondly, it was our concern to ensure that the School’s building reflected the image of the institution. Basically, we wanted the building itself to be an act of communication“.

The work was the optimum representation of the institution in question in its successful transmission of the clear philosophy of modernity and innovation that the school itself, in its renovation project, was expressing.

He was born in 1952. He graduated in ESBAL in 1977 and has managed his own studio since then. He was an assistant in the Faculty of Architecture of the Technical University of Lisbon between 1977 and 1992, where he was responsible for the design of one of the final year courses.

He has been invited to give seminars and lectures on his work at a number of universities, including Barcelona, Seville, Lisbon, Rome, Milan, Turin, Verona, Mexico City, Vienna, Aix-la-Chapelle (Germany) and Porto.

He was nominated for the “Mies Van Der Rohe” European Prize for Architecture:
– in 1991, for the building of the Portalegre Regional Social Security Centre
– in 1992, for the Municipal Swimming Pool building, Campo Maior
– in 1994, for the building of the Graduate School of Social Communication, Lisbon.
He was awarded the “AICA/SEC” Prize (International Association of Art Critics/Department of Culture) in 1992, for his work as a whole, on the occasion of the construction of the Graduate School of Social Communication, Lisbon.

Works and projects:

  • Portalegre Regional Social Security Centre (initially with Gonçalo Byrne and João Paciência), 1982/89.
  • Municipal Swimming Pool, Campo Maior (with Carlos Miguel Dias), 1982/90.
  • CGD Bank branches in Sabugal, in 1983/85 and Anadia, 1983/88.
  • The “Fonte Fria” house in the Serra de S. Mamede, 1985/88.
  • The “Módulo” art gallery (with Carlos Miguel Dias), Lisbon, 1987/88.
  • Graduate School of Social Communication, Lisbon, 1988/93.
  • Adaptation of Flor da Rosa Monastery, Pousada, Crato 1990.
  • Competition for expansion and restructuring of the Building of the Assembly of the Republic, Lisbon, 1st prize ex-aequo, 1992.
  • Recovery of the São Paulo Ruins, Macau (with Manuel Vicente, Daniel Santa Rita and Manuel Graça Dias), 1992.
  • Reconstruction and adaptation of the S. Francisco Convent of the School of Hospitality and Tourism of Algarve, Faro, 1993.
  • Competition for the Multi-functional Pavilion, EXPO 98, Lisbon, 1995.

Location: Lisbon

Project date: 1989-1990

Date of construction: 1992-1993

Design: João Carrilho da Graça

Collaborators: Francisco Freire, Inês Lobo, Nuno Matos, Pedro Domingos, Maria João Silva, José Maria Assis, Anne Demoustier

Client: Polytechnic Institute of Lisbon

Structure: José António Ferreira Crespo

Electricity: Ruben Sobral

Mechanics: José Boavida Roque/Pereira Coutinho

Water/sewerage: José Grade Ribeiro

Director of works: Pessoa de Amorim/Furtado Marques

Builder: EDIFER, Construções Pires Coelho & Fernandes, S.A

…The school had a clear philosophy of modernity, from the areas for the teaching that it sought to provide to the sophisticated technological facilities that it would have (…).

… It was essential for the building to support this philosophy. It was essential that the professional input of the architect also reflected innovation. It was essential for it to be a marker of modernity in the architecture of Lisbon.

António Pinto Leite, in Secil Architecture Award 1994, Edição Secil


The building has many interesting features, such as its placement on the site, its internal spatial organization and the plastic aspects of its construction. The actual prize-winning “object” therefore has great didactic capacity, as an example of architecture.

Pedro Brandão Architect, in Secil Architecture Award 1994, Edição Secil


The work expresses geometrical and abstract precision; it reflects a desire to paint and a distaste for massification (…) João Luís Carrilho da Graça moves towards a design (which already represents an idea of taming space) with his own assumptions that are not immediately justifiable, selected based on the collector’s sensitivity of a look that uses abstraction. A piece of architecture is like a development of languages. Writing them is an effort; improving them is an enrichment; reading them later (in this case) is a privilege.

Manuel Graça Dias, Architect, in Secil Architecture Award 1994, Edição Secil


While the elegant façade above the 2nd circular is the protagonist of the School’s visibility, the compositional climax is expressed, in my view, in another situation – not a space, not an identifiable object, not a part of the architecture, but just that, a situation: the approach to the school and the clash against the West wall for those who arrive.

Madalena Cunha Matos, Architect, in Secil Architecture Award 1994, Edição Secil

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